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Adrenalin Nation

Series/Special. New Zealand's adventure tourism industry has become a magnet for thrill-seekers, but not everyone remains unscathed. (CC) (Stereo)

DURATION
00:31:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel v107

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

New Zealand 23, Scott Ashcroft 11, Steve Latham 10, Martyn Stacey 8, Aj Hackett 5, Susan Watson 5, Chris Coker 5, Chris Johnson 5, Queenstown 3, Us 3, Peter Kollar 3, Schwartz 3, Caa 3, Civil Aviation Authority 3, Australia 2, Dean Ragg 2, Christchurch 2, America 2, Bradley Coker 1, Ian Mcclelland 1,
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  Al Jazeera America    Adrenalin Nation    Series/Special. New Zealand's adventure tourism industry  
   has become a magnet for thrill-seekers, but not everyone...  

    November 4, 2013
    1:30 - 2:01am EST  

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>> as we prepare to leave, forecasters tell us the upcoming days will likely bring the best weather everest has seen in decades. waves are expected to summit. one only wonders if their success will only spur on more adventure seekers. eager to test themselves, against a temperamental goddess known for her beauty and harshness.
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schwartz: if you like a thrill, it's easy to fall for new zealand.
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steve latham: "kiwis love to bring people over here, show them their environment and try to scare... scare people to death while they're here" (laughs). ♪ schwartz: tour guide steve latham loves adventure. he's made a life out of it. steve latham: "i basically just left home when i was 17 and started hitchhiking around the country. learnt a lot about new zealand while i was doing that, then wanted to carry on with that and somehow make a living out of just being a new zealander, showing people how beautiful it was". schwartz: but new zealand has beauty with bite. too often in recent years, adventure has turned to deadly misadventure. queenslander, scott ashcroft is hoping that won't happen today.
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steve latham: "it's a very special day today isn't it? why is it a very special day? whose birthday is it? scotty's birthday! and one thing about scotty is that he's scared of heights - so as a birthday present we are going to throw him off a 134 metre bridge. what do we think of that idea?" tourists: (shout) "awesome!" schwartz: "so you're afraid of heights?" scott ashcroft: "i am, yep". schwartz: "why are you going to jump off a bridge?" scott ashcroft: "i have no idea. i guess it's good just to test yourself out a bit.... challenge yourself". anna: "so you're going to be out on the edge like this, push off away from us as far as you can go, go in head first". scott ashcroft: "yeah at the moment i'm not feeling too bad". schwartz: "how many times have you been to the bathroom?" scott ashcroft: "a couple" (laughing) schwartz: two and a half million people travel to new zealand each year. nearly forty per cent will try at least one adventure activity.
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steve latham: "how are you feeling?" scott ashcroft: "not good man". steve latham: "okay man just breathe it in. relax. chill out. just live in the moment okay? just have one thing in mind and that is as soon as you get to that platform, you're jumping, you're not going to stop. we're jumping aren't we? scott ashcroft: "yeah". steve latham: "jumping?" scott ashcroft: "yeah". steve latham: "jumping. go on. happy birthday". schwartz: new zealand's highest bungy jump is no cheap thrill. the 134 metre plunge costs about two hundred australian dollars, but jumpers say the experience is priceless. steve latham: "okay man it's show time". here we go. three... two... one... go! aj hackett: "well i think the main thing is it opens up the doors for opportunity that people didn't think they could actually do and, you know, everybody walks away feeling really good about
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themselves and ready to take on other challenges and, you know, life is a big challenge and if you can take on some of these challenges, the rewards are huge". schwartz: surviving his 25th birthday is something scott ashcroft will never forget. scott ashcroft: "i don't know, i just can't believe i actually did it. it's something i would never have done really so i'm pretty happy that i got through it". schwartz: new zealander aj hackett pioneered commercial bungy and now runs jump sites around the world.. he was inspired by the traditional vine jumpers of vanuatu and a lifetime love of playing with gravity. aj hackett: "when the opportunity came up to play around with rubber, i just sort of started fantasizing about things that we
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couldn't do as kids and i thought well then there's some real possibilities here, we can jump a lot higher, you know? it could be a lot of fun". schwartz: aj's dive off the eiffel tower in paris in 1987 brought bungy to world attention and then the world to queenstown, when he and henry van asch opened up their passion to paying customers. today business is bigger than ever. aj hackett: "we've jumped now just over two and a half million customers in 23 years and we haven't killed anybody..... touch lots of wood." ♪ schwartz: queenstown is now recognised as the adventure capital of the world -- zorbing just one of the latest kiwi inventions. tourism is one of new zealand's most lucrative industries, earning 18 billion australian dollars a year
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thanks increasingly to adrenalin charged activities. but growth has come at a cost. tvnz news report: "it would be all too late but still they try in a desperate bid to save the life of a woman stuck under the jet boat when it overturned". tvnz news report: [21 september 2009] "the 21 year old was travelling with her boyfriend when they went on a mad dog trip on the kawarau river. she became trapped under the water against this rock; desperate attempts to rescue her alive unsuccessful". chris jordan: "the appalling, the ridiculous way she died has just been very upsetting. you know it was just so preventable at every stage".
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schwartz: at least 50 adventure tourists have died in new zealand over the past 8 years. adventure aviation has taken a particularly large toll. tvnz news report. super: january 2012 tvnz news report: "it was all that remained when a hot air balloon caught on power lines and went up in flames near carterton. eleven people on board were killed, including pilot lance hopping". schwartz: this year's carterton balloon accident was new zealand's worst aviation disaster since the 1979 mt erebus plane crash. cause is still being determined, investigators have said the balloon was not airworthy and the pilot had cannabis in his system. tvnz news report: "the scene of the tragic flight. the burnt out wreckage of the small aircraft with nine people on board lies at the end of fox glacier's airstrip". schwartz: only 16 months
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earlier, a skydiving plane crash killed 9 people, among them 24 year old briton, bradley coker. ian mcclelland: "they did not comply with the rules and did not ensure the aircraft was being operated in accordance with the flight manual". chris coker: "my son's death was entirely preventable. it was not an accident. it was an inevitable certainty that that was going to happen". schwartz: bradley's father, chris coker, is on a mission. he's launched an internet campaign warning adventure tourists to stay away from new zealand. schwartz: chris coker says there'll be more deaths unless new zealand overhauls its legal system to ensure adventure operators can be held to account.
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chris coker: "my main concern is i really don't want another father in the world to get a knock on the door from the police to tell them their child's been killed. it will happen again, because of the law in new zealand, the fact that you can't sue anybody for negligence or wrongful death. you can't do that, so nobody is held to account. it's just not safe. it's allowing them to run dangerous operations and they do, and this is the result".
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>> they say they did it because they were trying to protect my children. they didn't protect my children, they traumatized them. >> fault lines examines why so many native american kids are caught in the child welfare system. >> any time they see a social worker its like seeing a police officer. the immediate response is, "they're here to take my kids". >> from the indian perspective who sees this in terms of history, this is as about as adversarial as it gets.
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♪ schwartz: martyn stacey has also been campaigning for tighter controls on adventure tour operators. schwartz: ballooning may appear to be the gentlest of extreme sports but this is a four tonne aircraft with more power than many a light plane and no brakes. a pilot can take the craft up or down but direction is determined by the wind. martyn stacey: "it's a magical experience flying balloons and at different altitudes you get different wind directions and that's how you can control your balloon". schwartz: reading the weather correctly and erring on the side of caution is critical. martyn stacey: "i have one rule
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in ballooning, my rule is i'd rather be on the ground wishing i'm in the air than in the air wishing i'm on the ground". schwartz: there was a balloon that went into the top of trees. is that something which happens to everybody at some stage because of freak gusts?" martyn stacey: "i suspect if every balloonist is honest, they will hit trees at some stage and it's a learning curve. now that was a commercial flight. conditions most probably outside what they should have been in". schwartz: "did you fly that day?" martyn stacey: "no, we cancelled our flight that day". schwartz: "did other balloon companies fly?" martyn stacey: "yeah there was about four or five or us all said no to flying". schwartz: the company that did fly and clipped trees coming in to land was balloon adventures, up up and away ltd. dean ragg: "i'm not surprised". schwartz: "the company says it was a minor incident, there was no damage done". dean ragg: "no, but the potential was hugely there for a major incident". schwartz: dean ragg is a former chief pilot of balloon adventures up up and
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away. when he left the company in march 2010, he took his safety concerns to the civil aviation authority. four months later the caa grounded the company's seven balloons for seven weeks. it said the operation presented a threat to people's safety. dean ragg: [balloon pilot] "i started looking into rules, regulations, maintenance and all that sort of stuff and i found a few things that needed being tidying up. then i went through the process of tidying those particular spots up with a little difficulty". ♪ schwartz: one of the two directors of balloon adventures up up and away is pilot chris johnson. as a young army officer he was court martialled for theft. in 2004 he was convicted under the civil aviation act after providing air investigators with what the judge called a bogus document. dean ragg: "i've known him since i was eighteen.
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a long time". schwartz: "he taught you to fly". dean ragg: "he taught me to fly aeroplanes, yep originally, yep". schwartz: "so what kind of a person is he?" dean ragg: "a very interesting one. very intelligent, very clever, very charismatic. he could sell ice cubes to eskimos, that sort of person. yeah he was a very good friend up until i started working for him and then our friendship fell apart". schwartz: "why was that?" dean ragg: "just through these problems i was having as chief pilot". ♪ schwartz: dean ragg says chris johnson wanted to put four balloons in the air on a day of thick fog. dean ragg: "we got out to the launch site, it was foggy. so you couldn't even see to the other end of the launch site. he said, "oh it doesn't matter, we'll be fine." i'm like "no, look this isn't legal. we're outside the legal parameters of flying". in which case he said "well we'll wait and see what happens". so we did, we waited for about half an hour and the conditions got worse and then i said well that's it. the
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flight's over. we're going home". schwartz: not flying, potentially cost the company thousands of dollars in lost fares. dean ragg: "my experience has told me they're very money orientated. the profit comes first". schwartz: chris johnson is also a part owner and operator of balloon adventures emirates. in april 2010, one of the company's balloons made a fast and heavy landing. two passengers were killed, a crew member was paralysed and later died. the company was cleared of any wrongdoing and a conviction against the pilot was later quashed, but the aviation regulator found that the balloon had been launched in marginal weather after an earlier take off was aborted due to high winds. peter kollar: "adventure tourism is the fastest growing sector within tourism". schwartz: chris johnson's partner in the emirates' business is peter kollar. he's also a former director of balloon adventures up up and away.
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in 1995, peter kollar was flying for up up and away when his balloon came down at sea off christchurch. three tourists drowned. "is it a company that has been of concern to the civil aviation authority?" rex kenny: "any company that has a conviction is of concern". schwartz: rex kenny believes there's no longer anywhere to hide for unsafe operators. he oversees adventure aviation for new zealand's civil aviation authority - the caa". all adventure aviation businesses must now be certified by the caa. previously, the authority could act only against pilots and aircraft. rex kenny: "so the new adventure aviation regulations allow us to actually suspend the operating certificate and therefore put the company the on
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ground if necessary in the worst cases. schwartz: martyn stacey supports the new regulation. his company was among the first to be audited and certified. schwartz: "the new regulations.... will they get rid of any cowboys in the industry?" martyn stacey: "well hopefully, hopefully we haven't had cowboys in the industry but we've had people who've sort of pushed the law to its limits". director chris johnson declined an interview on camera, but spoke with me from dubai. he says he's never pressured any of his pilots to fly when they didn't want to and that safety is paramount. he also told me he welcomes the tighter regulations. schwartz: "so if you have somebody who is a director of a company who has been convicted under the civil aviation act, is that person then deemed to be not a fit and proper person?" rex kenny: "not necessarily. we'd be looking to see that
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there was a compliance history that showed that if there was a mistake made, that over time that wasn't repeated". on inside story, we bring together unexpected voices closest to the story, invite hard-hitting debate and desenting views and always explore issues relevant to you.
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>> audiences are intelligent
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what happens when social media uncovers unheard, fascinating news stories? >> they share it on the stream. >> social media isn't an after-thought, it drives discussion across america. >> al jazeera america's social media community, on tv and online. >> this is your outlet for those conversations. >> post, upload and interact. >> every night share undiscovered stories. schwartz: the new zealand government insists
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its adventure tourism industry is safe. there's no argument from scott ashcroft and his thrill seeking tour mates. done with bungy they're now onto jet boating and zip lining. "have you ever have any fears about safety doing any of these adventure activities". james keown: "no not at all, not they're all well organised, run by people who obviously know what they're doing so..... i guess at some point you've got to just leave it to them and trust them". schwartz: but the government admits industry self-regulation has been far from perfect, so it's tightening controls across all adventure activities. chris coker: [victim's father] "they change the rules and bring out new regulations as if to say they've fixed the problem. the problem is not fixed. the problem was never a shortage of rules and regulations, the problem is no enforcements. nobody is scared,
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there's nobody held to account". schwartz: chris coker believes the only way to truly hold adventure companies to account is to allow accident victims and their families to sue for damages - something which is almost impossible under the country's accident compensation regime. if you're a foreigner holidaying in queenstown and you have an accident, it's more than likely you'll wind up here, at the local hospital or there are any number of doctors, physiotherapists and other health professionals about town. but no matter who you see, or what treatment you receive, it'll be paid for by the new zealand taxpayer. that's because under the country's unique accident compensation scheme, anyone who's injured in new zealand be it resident or visitor is covered. the trade-off is that you can't sue for damages. professor susan watson says the system, when introduced in 1974 was revolutionary, taking the
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lawyers and the lottery out of accident compensation. professor susan watson: "if you got hit by a rich person you might get a million dollars compensation, if you got knocked down by a car driven by someone with no assets then you wouldn't get any compensation at all. so there was sort of a desire to have a system which new zealanders perceived to be fairer where everyone would get compensation regardless of fault and regardless of who caused the injury". ♪ schwartz: the universal scheme covers people for accidents at home, work and play. yet ironically it may make accidents more likely. ♪ research conducted by auckland university's commercial law department suggests that without the threat of being sued, an organisation can get complacent with disastrous results.
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professor susan watson: "new zealand has four times the rate of workplace fatalities than the uk and twice the rate of workplace fatalities than australia". schwartz: "and what do you put that down to?" professor susan watson: "well all i can say is that it doesn't disprove our idea that because corporations lack conscience, without the ability to sue the corporation for accidents, there isn't an incentive, there isn't sufficient incentive for them to put health and safety regimes or appropriate health and safety regimes in place". ♪ schwartz: the deadly pike river mine disaster in 2010 and the catastrophic building collapses in the christchurch earthquakes have shone a spotlight on new zealand's workplace safety, or lack of it. the government has ordered an independent review. professor watson says thought
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should be given to introducing a charge of corporate manslaughter as part of a raft of changes. professor susan watson: "what new zealand perhaps could consider bringing back the right to sue for health and safety breaches in workplaces. another option is to beef up the level of fines for health and safety breaches in workplaces. in australia, the maximum fine for a corporation breaching health and safety is two million dollars - in new zealand it's five hundred thousand dollars". schwartz: bungy entrepreneur aj hackett believes people should have the right to sue for gross negligence. but he says litigation can go too far, like the time a woman tried to sue his las vegas operation when she got wet hair on a jump. aj hackett: "every day working in america we had the threat of our business being closed down through completely ridiculous litigation, and it was a
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major, major issue and in new zealand we can concentrate on actually providing a very safe environment and a fun time for our customers. for me, i like the idea of if you want to do something, you take responsibility for your own actions. schwartz: across new zealand's adventure tourism industry, there's little enthusiasm for ditching the country's no fault accident liability system. rex kenny: "you only have to look at the us where people can get the pants sued off them and yet they still have accidents". ♪ steve latham: "i reckon that we've got a culture that we're going to take it to a
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professional level without over regulating it and trying to sue each other and all that carry on. we'll always keep it a little bit edgy and that's what people come over here for. if you're sort of worried about getting your knees dirty then maybe you should go to a different place". new zealand is not scared of going its own way, whether in being the first to give women the vote or in standing up to the us over nuclear policy. but in selling adventure, perception is everything. people want a safe scare. ♪ schwartz: the challenge for new zealand is in tightening the safety net without taking the adventure out of adventure tourism. .
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